The protagonists of “The Adventures of Dave and Joe,” a collection of sailing cartoons by Thistle racer Dave Foster, conduct much of their tomfoolery on the Hudson River in the shadow of the Tappan Zee Bridge and Hook Mountain.
I loathe nautical humor. How many variations on the theme “a boat is a hole in the water into which you dump your savings” will it take for would-be comedians to realize the joke’s just not funny? Much of the nautical humor I come across-and we receive plenty of it here at Sailing World-operates on the assumption that sailors are rich guys who don’t really enjoy sailing in the first place and regret purchasing a boat. Reading the stuff, I get the impression that the authors walked by a expensive-looking sailboat, saw an untapped humor market, then started dashing off one-liners about anchors and checkbooks and remorse.
So it’s no surprise to me that the first work of nautical humor I actually find funny comes from a sailor who, by all appearances, loves sailing, ain’t rich, and knows his way around a pint glass. “The Adventures of Dave and Joe,” a book of sailing cartoons by Thistle racer Dave Foster, chronicles the shenanigans of a pair of semi-ficticious Thistlers who race around the Hudson, travel to Midwinters, and never fail to find their way back to the bar. What makes Foster’s humor funny is the level of detail. As a Thistler myself, I can relate to the bit about the severe consequences of neglecting to mind the vang on a screaming reach.
But you don’t have to sail Thistles to get a kick out of “The Adventures of Dave and Joe.” The comic strips hit on the eccentricities of our sport that any racer will instantly recognize– the neglected off-season resolutions, the joy of hearing your nearest competitors ensnared in a crowded mark rounding, the way winning a race wipes your worries away.
My favorite strip depicts a non-sailing couple enjoying a picnic on shore, commenting on the graceful sailboats gliding across the water. On board one of the boats, crewmembers hurl a graceless volley of curse words at one another. This is sailboat racing. It’s an inside joke, and it takes an insider to tell it properly.